The Tyranny of Want
David P. Calleo, The Tyranny of Want, Review of Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky, How Much is Enough? The Love of Money and the Case for a Good Life (London: Allen Lane, 2012), Survival, Vol. 55, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 145-150.
In economics, as in politics, bad times often inspire good books. Capitalism’s distress in the interwar years aroused the creative powers of a brilliant galaxy of economists pushed by troubled times into examining the histori- cal and philosophical foundations of their discipline. Any list would include not only Keynes but many others such as Hayek, Rueff, Schumpeter or Friedman. It seems appropriate that today’s crisis should prompt a writer like Robert Skidelsky, Keynes’s leading biographer in our generation, to reconsider the philosophical doctrines and historical judgements that provide the foundation for the troubled capitalism we now practise. To reinforce the depth and scope of his study Skidelsky joins with his talented son Edward, a professional philosopher who has written about the German phi- losopher Ernst Cassirer. Thus the book can also draw upon the rich Idealist tradition ignored by most contemporary Keynesians. The Skidelskys take their lead from Keynes’s essay of 1930, ‘The Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren’. Here, Keynes famously predicted that in advanced econo- mies the growth and productivity of capitalism would be such that, within a century, a working week of 15 hours would be sufficient to sustain a decent standard of living in the entire population